Coming Alive and Fostering Hope

 

Submitted by Board Member, the Rev. Tanya Trzeciak

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

~Harold Whitman

I came across this saying while searching for something entirely different.  Coincidence?  Like my favorite television character always tells his team, I don’t believe in coincidences.

I don’t think we have to ask ourselves what the world, our country, or our neighborhood needs.  We already have a good idea.  The question should be ”what are we going to do about it?” We just celebrated the official beginning of spring and along with that occasion our thoughts turned to warmer days, trees bursting into flower and leaf, flowers pushing up through the brown earth and more birds singing outside our windows.  With spring always comes the promise of beauty and peace…hope of better things to come.

The political climate doesn’t look as if there is a bright, beautiful future for many of country but we have to foster hope.  Hope that we can stay alive and become more observant and involved in what is happening around us.  As pagans we believe in cycles…the Wheel of the Year, the cycles of life, death and life and the cycle of darkness and light.  We may be in the winter of despair but like the coming of spring after the darkness of winter, there is hope and light.  We must keep the light alive.  We must come alive and resist the darkness. What makes you come alive? What gives you hope?

Lent: Tilling the Ground

 

Contributed by Board Member, The Rev. Dr. Richard Bardusch

Lent is an old Anglo-Saxon word that means spring. While Lent overlaps spring in time, there is a deeper connection between the church season of Lent and the planting season of spring. Lent is about tilling the ground of our spiritual lives so that we can experience the new life of the Resurrection of Jesus. Lent is the time when we prepare our hearts to be sown with God’s love and Jesus’ new life.

Like the ground after winter, our hearts become hard over time and each year we need to break up that hardness so that like the ground they are prepared to receive the seeds of new life. Just as the plants thrive in tilled soil so to the seeds of God’s love thrive in a spirit that is broken and tilled.

As Americans we don’t like to have our world dug up. We like our patterns to be the same and predictable, but as Christians we are called to disciplines in Lent of preparation. Some of us give up bad habits, while others of us take on good ones.  Whether we give up or take on is not the question. They are both acts of preparation designed to till our hearts for the planting of God’s word and mighty deeds in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

How is God calling you to till your spirits? What do you need to give up or take on to prepare to receive God’s seeds of love? To till our hearts is the call of Lent.

Beltane and Spring

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Contributed by board member, The Rev. Tanya April-Trzeciak

The Merry Month of May.  Here in New England May is a month for joy.  March and the Vernal Equinox offer us hope but the strong winds and rain, even snow, often don’t hold much promise.  Then April comes along with more rain and warmth but there is still the threat of cold winds and snow.  May is the time when that promise of hope is finally fulfilled.  The trees are more than just tiny buds, there is more color than just the Forsythia yellow and the birds are feeding their young and singing the praises of the beautiful weather.  We find the earth warming so we can get our tomatoes in and many have been harvesting the peas for a few weeks now.

For Pagans May is full of joy and celebration where wehonor the fertility of the earth and all living things.  Flowers that bring us the luscious fruit are pollinized by the insects, peas and radishes are being picked and we begin to think of all the happiness we pushed aside during the cold dark days of winter.  May truly is spring.  May shows us that the cycle really does continue.  There are no more false hopes and the promised warm days that we had in March and April are truly here.  No, we have honest to goodness days of warmth and sunshine and nights that are not freezing cold.

We may not celebrate May as some of the ancients did with the Great Rite (Divine Marriage), but we do celebrate with singing and dancing and playing games.  The light of the bonfires cleanses away all the negativity still holding on.  Celebrate May and be joyous.  Blessed Be.

Prayer and the Play of Light

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From board member The Rev. Edward M. Cardoza

The days between spring and summer always seem to be a challenge for me in prayer.   I find myself wanting to be outside after having been cooped up all winter—sadly though not every day allows for this!  This winter seems to have presented more cold wintery days after the spring equinox, than before it.  So I have found myself finding that room in my house or that corner in my place of prayer that gets the most light.  I have begun setting up my morning or evening meditation in each of these spots with a bit more intentionality—choosing a time each day, and doing my best to show up.

At home, this special place is a tiny East facing window.  In the morning light, the window comes alive with pinks, blues and vibrant bursts of orange.  I’ve used this powerful display of nature’s making to pray with the play of light.  As the light changes in intensity and color—I pull myself closer into silence and awe.  Any moment–where I find myself distracted or being pulled into the busyness of the day before me—I return to the light outside.  I ask for grounding, for peace and for deep silence to surround me.  I remind myself of the prayer by John O’Donohue entitled “Morning Offering” in which he prays:

I place on the altar of dawn:

The quiet loyalty of breath,

The tent of thought where I shelter,

Wave of desire I am shore to

And all beauty drawn to the eye.

At my place of ministry, this special place is a West facing set of stained glass windows.  The light panels have vibrant colors and modern cut glass—with a light purple background.  I’ve found the perfect corner—and perfectly worn chair—that seems to hold my body without an ounce of discomfort.  The play of light in the evening is softer—perhaps even quieter and somber.  I ask for reflection, for forgiveness and for clarity.  It’s my own version of an Ignatian Examen—an opportunity to bring to prayer the challenges, hardships, joys and worries of the day.  A chance to voice what went well and what didn’t.

It’s a grace to mark the start and the end of the day like this.  When our light shifts—and gives us longer days—it only seems to make sense to immerse ourselves in its playfulness.   In drawing near, I always find something old spoken again or something new emerging from within.  In a few weeks, I will be outside—until then, I am becoming okay with this new approach to prayer.

Shared Spring Celebrations

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Contributed by Board Member, the Rev. Sarah Person

It is spring: deliverance from the quiet darkness of winter and the return of green and the reaching toward the sun.  In our northern climes, spring time is crowded with meaning and rich with symbols and rituals that have been passed down to us like a spiritual DNA.   This season is a true inter-religious, inter-cultural feast!

From time immemorial we have marked the last full moon before the equinox and spring itself and regaled ourselves with bright colors, eggs, hares, particular flowers, bonfires, and dances.

The same lilies and hyacinths that decorate Christian altars on Easter Sunday, are assembled for Ba Hai celebrations of No Ruz.   Eggs appear on the Jewish Seder plate, and in Easter egg hunts.

The Hindu Festival Holi at this time of year is the festival of love, or the festival of colors.  People don’t decorate eggs; they decorate each other with bright powdered colors as they dance in the streets.  It is a time to play, and forgive and to heal.

We all share traditions based on fertility and new growth, renewal and redemption.  We remind one another of our deliverance from evil, from slavery, from death itself.   We embrace the second chance at life and the effervescent joy of living even the short spans allotted to us.

Happy Spring, friends, Happy Spring